Poem by Ann Stevenson in The Guardian, Saturday 7 November, 2009. I can’t find it in the online version, so I am reproducing it in full here.
After the Funeral
by Anne Stevenson
For Sally Thorneloe, in memory of Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Thorneloe, killed in Afghanistan, 1 July 2009
Seeing you lost in that enormous hat,
Your face rigid with grief, I thought of how
In love with life you used to be, so much that
“Happy” seemed to be a word kept warm for you.
Seeing you stunned there in the camera’s eye,
Forbidding your chin to undermine your lip,
I knew the knife in you was asking why?
Oh, ceremony couldn’t answer it.
Though they were trying desperately to give
History’s unspoken underside a face,
A frame, words and reason to believe
The afterlife is ordered – like the place
In which, beside his flag-draped coffin, you
Acted, like him, the role you’d been assigned to.